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Department of Philosophy

Focus of Research

Research focuses at the interface of theoretical and practical philosophy

The topic of normativity is of central importance to philosophy, drawing together the areas of theoretical and practical philosophy: linguistic rules and the rules of belief formation are topics of enquiry on the theoretical side; while the relationship of norms to values and the sources of normative authority are the subject of investigation on the practical side. In addition, both areas deal with the concepts of truth and lying, both from a semantic and epistemological perspective and from a moral perspective.

Research focuses in practical philosophy

In the domain of practical philosophy, research collaboration between the department’s professorial chairs centers around two focal points. The first concerns the theory of moral rights (conceptual analysis, the relationship between rights and obligations, the rights of third parties, questions of justification, questions in applied ethics). The second focal point concerns the conceptual clarification and justification of authority in various structural contexts.

Research focuses in theoretical philosophy

The professorial chairs of Meylan and Saporiti deal with connections between contemporary and historical positions. Wittgenstein’s philosophy is investigated at the professorial chairs of both Saporiti and Glock, as are other movements and figures from the history of analytical philosophy (e.g. conceptual analysis and Ryle). In addition, the two chairs share an interest in metaphilosophical themes, in particular in the significance of the history of philosophy for the subject as a whole.

A further metaphilosophical connection holds between the SNSF Eccellenza Professorship of Kevin Reuter and Glock’s professorial chair concerning the relationship between conceptual analysis, conceptual engineering and experimental philosophy. The professorial chairs of Meylan and Glock are brought together by the subject of ‘normativity’. The former focuses mainly on epistemic normativity; the latter on semantic normativity and the anthropological role of norms. Members of the two professorial chairs regularly exchange ideas concerning questions such as whether normative phenomena can be naturalised.

Professors Reuter and Herfeld are connected through their interest in the subject areas of metaphilosophy and thick concepts. While Reuter addresses the question of the usefulness and justification of empirical methods, Herfeld considers to what extent empirical methods can be put to use in the philosophy of science.